Monday, January 13, 2014

Of Geese and Ganders and New Year's Resolutions...


The truth is,
I don’t need to spend hours kneading dough to think of that One Thing that would make a difference in my writing life this year.
I know it and I’ve known it throughout 2013.
I must begin each day living inside my stories.

                                                          (Morgue Files, Jim Munnelly)

There’s no getting around it.  Once I’m caffeinated, and even sometimes before, all of me writes best in the day’s early hours.
Usually at my desk, in my writing room,
or on the couch,
or in my bed,
but always, at my keyboard.
That’s my M.O.
It works because I work best first thing in the morning.

This past year, IMHO, I continued to do my best work in the a.m.
I eagerly arose to dig into stories, except and alas,
they were the stories of the writers I teach and coach.
Which wasn’t all bad, because, to my delight, as my teaching and coaching plate overflowed, so did my Gratitude Journal.
In 82 lifetimes I’d never come to know the fine people with whom I've worked.
My writers allow me to give everything I’ve got.  They keep me sharp.  They make me smart.
But I was so caught up living inside their stories first, investing in their characters, their plotlines, their hopes and hearts, all in the name of telling their good stories well,
sadly my Heroine sat last in line, waiting.  

She was patient at first.
But this past year, as I wrote notes and narratives and follow-up emails for and to my writers, as I shared tools and shortcuts and hard-gained wisdom, she whimpered and whispered, then heaved heavy sighs.
She scratched at my insides, poking, pinching, finally punching come Fall.
“You promised me you’d tell MY story to the World!” she scolded.  “You can’t break your promise!”

So this year, I’m keeping it.
I’ve now spent at least the first hour of the past thirteen days living inside my Heroine’s story.
I'm re-reading first drafts, re-viewing revisions, re-visiting notes and my Writer’s Journal. 
I’m creating a GPS of sorts for my final revision - singling out Turning Points, re-weaving subplots, ordering scenes, layering plotlines, reconsidering motives, short-handing themes, summarizing the story, readying my pitch.
I’m working hard, doing everything I tell my writers to do.
And THEN I go on to live inside their stories.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
 
                                                   (Morgue Files, emlyn)

I’ve even returned to an earlier writing practice I used with each of my books: falling asleep with my story on my mind so it’s there in the morning, waiting with the sun.

Here’s to new days and (hopefully) new ways!

Esther Hershenhorn

4 comments:

Carmela Martino said...

Oh, I can SO relate to living inside other people's stories, Esther. It happens to me when I'm teaching/critiquing, and is part of the reason I cut back on both last year. But now, as I prepare to return to teaching, I need to keep my story front and center, too. Hooray for you for dedicating time to your own story.

April Halprin Wayland said...

This is beautiful, EH--and inspiring.

LInda Baie said...

I tried to comment hours ago, & it wouldn't allow-??
Loved hearing how you're changing the priorities for your 'girl', letting her have some of your best time. I think it can be applied in a number of ways, doing what's good for us instead of doing all those other obligations first. Thanks for the lesson, Esther!

Esther Hershenhorn said...

Thanks to all who took the time to comment - or - email me when they were unable to post.
I'm so glad my honest words struck a familiar chord with so many.
I also - greatly - appreciate the Good Cheer.
So far,I'm still keeping my promise to my Heroine!